AMBER ZONE: Welcome to the Grand Illusion!

Players’ Information:

During a layover on the planet Sands (UPP E363613-7 Amber Zone, Gas Giant), the players are contacted by Jae Bussi, an elderly parolee. He has information suggesting his former ship, The Grand Illusion, was never recovered after crew was captured. Jae is offering Cr 10,000 each as payment for recovering a special coin collection onboard, as well as a percentage of any special cargoes recovered.


Image from Wikimedia – Public Domain

Referee’s Information:

Much of the terrain between the starport and the The Grand Illusion site is desert. Water is very scarce, but thankfully the temperature is not dangerously hot during the day. The starport town of Khaliggh is home and company town to a few thousand persons, most of which are Terran. The Lang Corporation runs titanium mining operations near the meager starport facilities, and is for all intents and purposes, the government on the planet. They maintain an efficient security force (a mechanized battalion equipped at TL 8), but generally leave people alone, as long as they stay clear of their mining operations.

The Grand Illusion is hidden in a canyon 200 km away from the starport. The canyon is the site of early attempts at mining on Sands, which eventually were abandoned due to dangerous wind conditions which caused numerous mining ship accidents. This provided the crew of The Grand Illusion with a perfect hiding place. This graveyard of ships is in a region claimed by a native race called the Ssorin. The ship itself is non-operational, but a combination of battery and solar power operates the traps on board. The ship is largely empty, other than a few odds and ends of gear strewn about, and a coin collection, and several thousand credits, which are both in the ship’s safe. The coin collection is, in truth, not worth much except for sentimental value. It belonged to Jae’s son, who was also killed during the capture of the crew. Or so Jae says…

While once a pirate, Jae is far too old to be traipsing around the universe. He will pay the characters the Cr 10,000 he offered upon completion of the operation, and will throw in a bonus if the coin collection is returned to him unharmed. The money, as well as the coin collection is in the ship’s safe. To safeguard against the players attempting to rob him, Jae informs them that there are plenty of traps on board, and that he is fully capable of protecting himself by using them. He will pay a bonus of Cr 2,500 for retrieving the collection, and will allow the characters to leave the area in their own transport, and will use the ship’s small podship to make his exit.

Jae will accompany the PCs to The Grand Illusion and will risk being injured by the traps right along with them. In reality, it is not the coins, or sentiment, but the display case which is the real treasure. Well-concealed within are ten Cr 20,000 certificates. An Appraise roll will arrive at a figure of Cr 1,000 for the collection, and Jae will look sorely disappointed. A player might be able to notice and discover the hidden certificates on a roll of 10+, with DRM of Forgery skill.

As an additional possibility, there is the ship. If all traps are removed, there is still some value there, if the PCs choose to claim it or salvage it, and if it can be restarted, and if the authorities do not identify it as a pirate ship from 32 years ago…

If Jae is hit by any damage from the traps, or through encounters with the Ssorin leading up to the time he departs, consider any results of him being critically wounded, or dying to be just light or moderate wounds, so that he can still effect his escape. Should the players try to cheat him in any way, he will use his knowledge of the ship’s traps to aid in his escape.

An extremely challenging situation might arise depending on how the PCs treat the Ssorin. Rumor has it that the Ssorin are seeking mercenaries and spies, and would like to see the Corporation suspend mining operations in the Holy Areas, or better yet, leave the planet entirely. To the Ssorin, the Holy Areas tend to be thought of as such due to the concentration of high grade titanium ore. The PCs might be approached to assist in another rebellion. The Lang Corporation will be a tremendous opponent in this struggle, and the Ssorin have little to offer as payment, except for the locations of untapped titanium veins well away from their Holy Areas. There might be time for the PCs to exploit the knowledge before Lang completes a new survey of the planet…

The Ssorin (minor race):

The minor race native to the planet Sands is called the Ssorin, or “Sanders”. They are a tall, well-muscled reptilian race, and they are highly aggressive. They are more active during daytime than at night. During daytime, they wear little except a loincloth. At night, they don hooded cloaks to protect against the chill of night. Depending on the actions of the PCs, the Ssorin might be encountered during their travels to the canyon, after activating one of the traps aboard the ship, or as they are leaving the area, at the discretion of the Referee.

The Ssorin are a native TL2 race, but with advanced metalworking abilities. They are armed with a variety of weapons including primitive firearms, crossbows, and large, strangely-curved swords called “Blaades”. A Blaade is a well-made titanium alloy sword, handcrafted by the Ssorin. Treat as a Broadsword for damage, but as a Cutlass for weight and fatigue. Ssorin tactics are limited to small-unit night infiltration raids, and daytime mass wave assaults. There was a Ssorin rebellion 5 years ago. Perhaps 5,000 Ssorin were killed, along with nearly 900 citizens of Sands, mostly Lang miners or security troops. The official Lang stance is currently “live and let live”. It is easier and less costly in lives to pay off the Ssorin with trinkets, tools, alcohol, and minor tech items, than to go through another bloody time of hostilities. The Lang Corporation typically pays the equivalent of about Cr 500-1000 in goods to the Ssorin for returning any “lost” persons unharmed. A small cost, considering how things were a few short years ago.

If encountered under circumstances other than #10 on the List of Traps (below), use these rules for how many Ssorin are encountered. Daytime groups of Ssorin will consist of 6D6 individuals, and they will be highly aggressive. Give them a +1 DRM to all to hit rolls. One quarter will be armed with ranged weapons. Individuals with ranged weapons will fire once, then charge. All others will simply charge. The Ssorin do not take prisoners during the day. It is their Holy Time, and that is their Way…

Nighttime groups of Ssorin will consist of 1D6+3 individuals. All Ssorin have an inherent skill of Nighttime Stealth +2. At night, all Ssorin will be armed with ranged weapons, and will use them first over melee weapons. They will fire once and then retreat to reload, and then fire again. They will only engage in melee if trapped with no retreat. If they can retreat, they will do so. Negotiations with the Ssorin are only possible at night. About 1 in 8 individuals speak enough Standard to trade or ransom “lost” people at the starport. Credits are worthless to them, but they like metal coins, weapons, tools and alcohol.

The Ssorin might take prisoners at night. Ssorin often collect a reward for returning “lost” people to the starport. The authorities play along with this protection racket, knowing the Ssorin outnumber all other inhabitants of the planet by nearly 20 to 1. PCs taken prisoner will be returned to the starport mostly unharmed after 2D6 days. If the party wishes to rescue any captured PCs, the Referee will have to determine the outcome.

The population of the Ssorin on Sands is approximately 1 million. As they are not citizens, they are not counted on the official census. There is a central underground “city”, with dozens of tunnels branching out from it. These help the Ssorin achieve surprise. Ssorin gain a favorable +2 DRM to both surprising others, and being surprised themselves, while on the planet Sands.

Notes about Traps aboard The Grand Illusion:

Traps aboard the ship must be located and then disarmed. The path to the safe is: Cargo Bay, Engineering, Common Area, Bridge, Safe, for a total of five traps. For those traps known to Jae, allow a DM of +2 to the rolls to find and disarm. If the same result is rolled more than once, re-roll until a unique result is obtained. Traps work differently than a normal attack with a weapon. Roll damage to each individual, not as a group.

Roll D6 for which specific trap is encountered.

1. An electrical trap is triggered. This trap is so well hidden that it cannot be disarmed. Roll vs. DEX to avoid. Players who fail take 1D damage to STR, DEX, or END at random.

2. Scorch marks can be seen in this area. Roll vs. INT to locate the trap. Several liters of hydrocarbon fuel are pumped onto the floor in this area and blow torches ignite it immediately. Roll 8+ to disarm, DRM +Engineering skill. If the trap is not disarmed, players take 2D burn damage to END. Jae knows about this trap.

3. Structural beams on the ship have been rigged to collapse and impale intruders. Roll vs. INT to locate the trap. Roll 10+ to disarm, DM +Mechanical skill. If the roll is failed, each character takes 3D6 damage, which can be reduced to 1D6 on a roll equal or less than DEX.

4. A utility ‘bot has been reprogrammed to “clean” intruders with a pair of monofilament swords, rather than brushes. Roll vs. INT to locate the trap. Roll 8+ to disarm, DM +Mechanical skill. If the roll is failed, the ‘bot is activated. The ‘bot attacks twice per turn. The monofilament swords are good at defeating armor. Use the DRMs of a laser rifle to hit, and apply 2D6 damage to each target if it does hit. A character might dodge by rolling DEX or less. The ‘bot is poorly armored, however and can be reduced to one attack after applying 10 damage, and can be permanently destroyed after 20 hits of damage. Jae knows about this trap.

5. A shotgun trap flips down from the ceiling and fires point-blank at a random PC’s face. Roll vs. INT to locate the trap. One character, selected at random, is hit with a 4D6 attack from a shotgun. Roll vs. INT to dodge, and take 2D6 damage. Jae knows about this trap.

6. Roll vs. INT to locate the trap. Roll 2D6 for 9+ to disarm, DM +Gunnery skill. If the disarm roll fails, the turret on The Grand Illusion comes to life, and auto-targets something in the vicinity. Roll 2D6. On a result of 2-7, random wreckage is targeted. There is no immediate danger to the PCs, however there is a chance that the Ssorin heard the attack, and are responding. On a result of 8-11, the party’s vehicle or ship is targeted. On a result of 12, the ship’s lasers fire randomly, but are stuck at an odd angle, and continue to fire until shut down. Again, there is a chance the Ssorin will investigate. Follow the initial roll for the turret firing, roll 2D6 again. The Ssorin will investigate on a roll of 8+, with DRM of +2 if the earlier roll was the “12”, where the turret fires until it is shut down. If the roll for Ssorin to appear succeeds, determine the number of Ssorin which appear as above, doubling it if the second roll was a “12”.

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